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SLIDESHOW: Through thick and thin: Snoqualmie Valley Record Year in Review
With heartbreak and happiness, tightened budgets and growing communities, the past year was a memorable, colorful era in the Snoqualmie Valley.
The year 2010 began with local school and city officials, even trail hikers, wondering how state budget cuts would affect their daily operations and lives. As the weeks progressed, state funding stabilized and attractions were preserved. School and park districts managed to pass two ballot measures. Meanwhile, cities underwent big construction projects that taxed business owner and commuter patience. Fires, minor flood and demolitions also changed the local landscape.
But through it all, the Valley celebrated with new and old festivals and plenty of community involvement. High points of the year included publication of a two generations of memories in Fall City, a huge high-tech geocaching extravaganza at Carnation and a generous outpouring of help during tough times to families in need, such as the Mount Si Food Bank and the fire-stricken Muse family, throughout the Valley.
• Mount Si trailheads closed to the public? Last winter, a closure or shuttering of popular local trailheads was on the table, as the Washington State Department of Natural Resources braced for budget cuts. Funding for the trail was saved after locals including North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing went to Olympia to fight for access. This winter, with more cuts on the way, new user fees are potentially coming down the path.
• Heavy snow on Snoqualmie Pass couldn't slow down rescue dog Tippy. Readers met the hard-working, powerful-nosed Tippy and other Backcountry Avalanche Rescue K9s in a Record profile. Play and praise help these dogs train to find avalanche victims trapped by accidents. You can learn about Alpental BARK at their Facebook page.
• Mount Si High School senior Brianna Kelly's dreams of a career as a baker soared when she became a finalist for the annual Washington Award for Vocational Excellence, or WAVE, scholarship. But the scholarship award was on skaky ground last winter due to state budget cuts. Kelly went on to received the award; funding to the program was reduced, but the WAVE goes on.
• Soft music and candles filled the Fall City home where members of the Baha'i Faith met in February to pray for justice. The group was raising awareness for the plight of their co-religionists in Iran, who Baha'is insist are being persecuted for their beliefs. In Iran, Baha’is have been charged with corrupting the state and causing chaos, but members refute such accusations. “The fundamentals of all religions are all the same, so that’s what the Baha’i Faith
believes,” Valley resident Mary Lillejord said.
• Hundreds of community members waved flags along the procession to Mount Si High School, for a memorial service in honor of Marine Lance Corporal Eric Ward, a Mount Si graduate who was killed Feb. 21 in Afghanistan. Family members, teachers and friends honored Ward's memory with a service in the school gym.
• The Snoqualmie City Council voted unanimously March 22 to hire the YMCA of Greater Seattle as the operator of a proposed community center. Residents spoke in favor of the long-awaited community center as a safe place for kids and families, and they spoke against it, citing parking and traffic concerns.
• Entrepreneurs Greg Lund and Bob Morris have a vision for the former Weyerhauser lumber mill, Ultimate Rally Experience. The two propose to use the 280-acre site for off-road driving lessons and other types of driver education.
• Teenage brothers Cody and Tyler Oberlander are the proprietors of the new Game Cave arcade, which opened last month in the Ridge Marketplace. The boys' parents Brad and Jen Oberlander, own the business, but the brothers are in charge of daily operations.
• North Bend is in the midst of a $16 million project to extend sewer service to its latest annexation, Tanner. Voters petitioned the city to extend the sewer and eliminate the area's current septic systems. Work on the project is expected to be done in January 2011.
• Nelems Memorial Hospital was demolished to make way for Snoqualmie Tribe elder housing, after tribe officials determined it was too dilapidated to renovate. Construction on the four new housing units will begin this summer.
• A 76 year-old man was attacked April 7 in his Lake Langlois home by an intruder, but defended his property despite having Parkinson's Disease and being bashed on the head by the intruder. The suspect broke in through a sliding glass door and the man shot him in the shoulder in defense. A neighbor came to help, and shot the intruder again when he tried to move. The suspect had non life-threatening injuries.
• Parents expressed both pleasure and anger with the Snoqualmie Valley School Board's April 21 decision on boundary revisions. As a result of their choice, 401 students will be switching schools in the coming year, which is 43 fewer than an earlier, more favored version.
• The most important car in the Northwest Railway Museum’s collection, the 112-year old chapel car Messenger of Peace, got national attention in an online vote. The Messenger, a church on wheels built by the American Baptist Publication Society to bring religion to Western communities without a house of worship, competed with two dozen other historic properties nationwide in the fifth annual Partners in Preservation grant program, funded by the American Express Foundation. The Messenger took ninth place for a share of the $1 million grant.
• Drivers who are pondering whether to check the organ donor box at the DOL should think of Snoqualmie resident Nate Gunderson. The healthy husband and father waited 60 days for a heart transplant after a bacterial infection destroyed his own organ. By last spring, he was on the mend, helping to get the truth about transplants out with the group Donate Life.
• Backcountry horse riders saddled up to fight trail closures in the Fall City area following timber land sales. The new owners cited safety concerns, but riders wanted continued access. While some paths remain off limits, property owners and the county agreed to open the Rutherford Slough connector.
• The investigator hired by Snoqualmie Valley School District to look into the events surrounding a Nov. 2009 locker room beating found deepseated distrust by the victim's family about the school's official response. The fight left a freshman with a concussion, skull fractures and a broken tooth. A high school junior was later cleared of assault charges.
• The Snoqualmie Tribe was one of the first police agencies in the region to try out 'green' ammo. The new bullets cost less and are better for the environment.
• A broken beaver dam flooded the Ernie's Grove neighborhood of Snoqualmie and caused massive damage at the Kassian family's Mountain Creek Tree Farm.
• Summer was construction season for both Snoqualmie and North Bend. Major work renovated downtown areas in both, wrapping up in the fall.
• Residents of the Snoqualmie Hills Planning Area went public with their fight against a new power substation and its attendant "road to nowhere." Neighbors believe the new power station, combined with a new road connected into the Snoqualmie Ridge industrial park, hurts their property values and way of life.
• The Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance filed suit against the Army Corps of Engineers in July, alleging that the agency took a shortcut in permitting decisions to allow new work at Snoqualmie Falls. The Alliance's Lower Valley members say flooding has worsened since the Corps' work in the mid-2000s at the Falls. The case remains in federal court.
• Carnation welcomed thousands of world explorers to GeoWoodstock VIII, a high-tech treasure-hunting event at July 3 at Remlinger Farms.
• A dog named Dosewallips survived a 100-foot fall and a day trapped on a cliff ledge after slipping on a Cascade Mountain trail. Volunteers and rescue teams scaled a cliff and rescued the 10-month-old German Pointer on August 6. The lucky dog was given a thorough check, and had no obvious injuries. He walked out on his own four feet.
• Bears made life a little hairy for more than a few Valley residents last summer. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife handled a spike in bear calls regionally, with a number of locals spotting the beasts boldly going after their garbage and other attractants. "You can't scare them away," said Preston resident Jason Lundquist. "Once they come out, stay around and get into the garbage, they don't go away." Wildlife officials stressed eliminating the urban trash and food that tempt bears.
• The August primary election saw Si View Parks District pass its $6 million bond request for park upgrades and building fixes. Riverview School District succeed in its bid for a supplemental levy meant to offset shrinking state revenues.
• Truckers in North Bend welcomed proposals to build additional parking stalls and services at the TruckTown neighborhood. But nearby residents wondered what uncontrolled expansion would mean for traffic, safety and the environment. For now, the city of North Bend awaits a complete regional plan for the idea to get rolling.
• One man's art is another's... vandalism target? Fall City artist Don Fels was surprised how quickly his installation on Reinig Road, a series of cardboard and wood picture viewers showing the vanished Riverside neighborhood, were destroyed by vandals. The works, put up in conjunction with a Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum exhibit on old Snoqualmie Falls, only lasted a few weeks.
• Carnation resident Jackie Perrigoue called a town meeting in September to discuss safety of local roads. Perrigoue went on record saying newly installed guardrails between Fall City and Duvall make for a narrow, unsafe highway. Several residents concurred, wondering how cyclists, truck drivers, police and commuters can share road. State roads officials, however, insist that the rails are a safety help, not a hindrance.
• A nighttime fire gutted the 50-year-old Snoqualmie Medical Clinic on Friday, Oct. 1. Residents watched as firefighters corralled the blaze, which started from a faulty light ballast, but the building was badly damaged. Clinic staff now occupy temporary quarters in North Bend, but owners plan to rebuild.
• The Muse-Calley family of Snoqualmie sought new quarters in the wake of a devastating apartment fire. The family lost everything in the blaze, and was touched by generous donations that came to them in their time of need.
• Pumpkin fun was canceled at the Nursery at Mount Si in North Bend, where elk and bad weather combined to ruin owner Nels Melgaard's patch. He closed up shop for the winter.
• For 37 years, the arm of the law in North Bend has worn a King County Sheriff's uniform. But rising costs have North Bend city officials wondering whether Snoqualmie Police might be a better fit. The North Bend City Council voted Oct. 19 to approve a letter of intent to terminate its county police services contract. North Bend officials found no fault with county protection. But potential cost savings of as much as $250,000 annually turned their heads.
• Saving memories before they disappear was the aim of the Fall City Historical Society, which published its first memory book this fall. The big tome, “Preserving the Stories of Fall City,” collects interviews from more than 50 longtime citizens.
• A 64-year-old Bellevue man vanished for four days after a morning visit to Mount Si Golf Course on Monday, Nov. 8. Minus his car, Warren Lee Singleton reappeared near Rattlesnake Lake, ending a search but leaving police looking for answers.
• Police also wanted to learn who was behind the pipe bomb explosion in North Bend on November 4. Someone threw the small explosive device from a moving pickup.
• Master hunters hit the frigid fields and forests of the Valley this winter, attempting to kill a few elk to save many more. The special hunt, which lasts until March, is an effort to slow the growth of the local herd until studies can be completed on what kind of herd the Valley can sustain.
• Need at local food banks continues to rise. Non-profits in North Bend, Fall City, Preston and Carnation continue to feed hundreds weekly, depending for help on the generosity of others.
• As North Bend Theatre's Mountain Film Festival got underway, the city of North Bend named owner Cindy Walker the 2010 Citizen of the Year. Walker was singled out for her devotion to promoting the community and its downtown.